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post #54 of Old 09-30-2012
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Re: Seller agreed to offer, but set a clause,"no discounts after survey"

(Apologies for the long post) Interesting to see this thread take shape with some novice buyers generally lining up on one side of the issue, and some experienced sellers generally lining up on the other side.

Some comments in the thread, apparently from the experienced boat seller set, discuss how they know what price they should set for their boat, they sell her for the price they set, and they can't be swayed by someone trying to lowball a deal. There's also some comments from these experienced "boaties" that when they buy a boat, they can survey the boat themselves, and they can set their asking price accurately and not worry about any issues that may come up later in the process, because of their experience. As a buyer, and boating novice, I find that this position tends to be disempowering, in that it appears that the suggestion is that I should expect to take whatever the boat expert seller is saying, at face value. (And let's face it, at my experience level, everyone else is already an expert ahead of me..)

However, I think that there's another side to this coin, (and I'll use myself as the example). First off, in terms of boat sellers, I'm not trying to take unfair advantage of them, in any deal. I just don't want to be taken advantage of, by them. Second, when I do my personal inspection, (if the boat is within a couple of hundred bucks flying/driving time), I'm looking at the things I understand. Stuff like overall cleanliness, (it surprises me that in my short time looking, I've seen several boats where the current owners haven't even cleaned them, in order to prepare for sale). Water damage, canvas, running rigging, and sail condition, water, (or water and other stuff), in the bilge, corrosion in the engine compartment, cracks or blisters in the hull, topsides which buckle when you walk on them, etc.

And that's about it. Based on my inspection, and what I've learned about the boat from other sources, if I want to purchase her, I can proceed to negotiate a price agreed to by both you and I, and we enter into a purchase agreement. At this point I hire a surveyor, whose job it is to inspect the entire boat, fire up all systems, sea trial her, and then write me a report letting me know the condition of everything, based on their expert opinion. I'm not hiring the surveyor for insurance purposes. I'm hiring them to be my expert advisor, and to advise me in the purchase. I also expect the surveyor, based on their expertise to let me know approximate fair value for the boat. If I've misjudged that number in my offer, for any reason, I can guarantee you that we're about to have a conversation. It either is going to begin with I'm rejecting this deal, or I'm not prepared to go forward with this deal at the agreed upon price.

Furthermore I don't agree with the position that once the purchase agreement is signed, I'm obligated to purchase the boat at the agreed upon price as long as the survey only turns up the "normal" wear and tear items. Some comments in the thread suggest the deal should be kept to, unless the survey turns up something "major". So what's major mean to you? Do you know what major means to me? I can guarantee you the meanings will be different. Additionally if I'm negotiating a purchase agreement before I can even inspect the boat, (due to distance), that means that there's the additional hurdle of the personal inspection to factor into this as well.

The fact is that I reserve the right to reject the deal for any reason whatsoever. 1 to 2k survey plus travel costs, isn't going to obligate me to make a purchase that I'm in any way uncomfortable with, any more than it would you. If on the morning of the survey and sea trial I experience you trying to bully and beat down anything raised by my surveyor, or questions asked by me, I can receive a survey that states that your boat is solid gold and exhausts chanel #5, and I'm still rejecting the deal.

Truth is, in a negotiation like this, we become partners right from the outset. We should treat each other as partners until the negotiations are completed, regardless of the purchase outcome. To me that means we should deal with each other honestly, as we would want to be dealt with, and if something turns up during the course of the process we should both be open to discussing it and coming to a solution that works for both parties.

Going back to the OP, (I was eventually going to get back there), I think that it's extremely counter productive to put anything like that clause into the contract. Not only is it not necessary, (because the seller retains the right anyway), nothing good can come from it. It will immediately cause suspicion in the buyer's mind, and set up negotiations for a rocky road, (as evidenced by the existence of this thread). Finally, as far as the art of negotiations is concerned by telegraphing your fear like that, you're already given the buyer information that they can use against you. Instead of treating a prospective new buyer like they were your last unsuccessful buyer, it's usually better to treat them simply as a prospective new buyer.

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